Cocoa: properties, benefits and uses of this food

Cocoa, a food consumed today throughout the world and considered a superfood due to its health benefits. In this article we will talk about its nutritional composition, the properties and benefits of cocoa and what are the different uses of cocoa.

Cocoa has become very popular due to its uses in gastronomy (as chocolate), but it also has multiple beneficial properties for the body. The use of cacao dates back to ancient times, when the Mayas, Aztecs and Incas first cultivated this tree and used its seeds for ritual, food and economic purposes.

At present, this natural delicacy is used both internally (drinks, infusions, meals) and externally (lotions, creams) for its health benefits and its rich flavor.

To take advantage of all the properties of cocoa, choose an ecological, organic or bio cocoa .

What are you waiting to take advantage of and eat this aptly named “ Gift of the Gods ”?

Cocoa and its nutritional composition

The cocoa we consume is obtained from the almond-shaped fruit of the tree whose scientific name is Theobroma cacao, but which is popularly named 1 . This inside contains 30 to 40 seeds which are processed to achieve the product that we know 1,2 . The pressing causes almonds three main forms: cocoa liquor , the cocoa butter , and the residue, the cocoa powder 3 .

Cocoa beans are rich in specific antioxidants , with the basic structure of catechins and epicatechins; polyphenols (mainly flavonoids) similar to those found in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables and tea . Between 10 and 22% of the composition of the cocoa bean is fat, mainly fatty acids (oleic, palmitic and stearic, in addition to other organic acids), amino acids, sulfur compounds, phenols (coumarin, esculetin and catechol), acetophenone, benzaldehyde, deisopentyl benzoate; and by terpenes (essential oils), apigenin, among others.

It has sterols, phenylethylamine, phospholipids, lecithin, lysine, luteolin, anthocyanins, camferol, campestrol, cyanogenetic compounds, cyanidin, dopamine, oxalates, isoleucine, mucilages, pectins, epicatechin, catechin, quercetin, clovamide and procyanidin; proline, purines, quercitrin, rutin, salsolinol, serine, serotonin, tannins, tyramine, threonine, trigonelline, vitamins of the complex B, C and E, vitexin, in addition to calcium, phosphorus and iron 1, 2 .

After processing, the cocoa has: Fat (53.05%), total nitrogen (2.28%), water (3.65%), protein nitrogen (1.50%), theobromine (1.71%), caffeine (0.085%). Carbohydrates: Glucose (0.30%), sucrose (1.58%), pectins (2.25%), starch (6.10%), fiber (2.09%). Polyphenols (7.54%). Acids: Free acetic (0.014%), oxalic (0.29%).

Each 100 g of cocoa powder contains:

Energy (452 ​​Kcal), proteins (21.5 g), carbohydrates (35 g), fat (25.6 g), calcium (0.1690 g), magnesium (0.544 mg), iron (0.0138 g), copper (0.0045 g), phosphorus ( 0.795 mg), potassium (2.057 mg), sodium (0.0090g), zinc (0.0079 g), theobromine 2.5 g and flavonoids 7 g 3 .

Properties and Benefits of Cocoa

cocoa properties

Due to its chemical composition, mainly its flavonoid content , cocoa has multiple beneficial health properties. Among them we find:

  • Antioxidant property

    Cocoa, due to the presence of flavonoids, has an effective action against oxidative stress. Furthermore, the procyanidin content reduces plasma oxidation products, favoring the antioxidant action of plasma 4 . Its antioxidant activity for human skin is said to be twice as high as other antioxidant sources used in women’s cosmetics 5 .

  • Anti-inflammatory property

    Dry bean and cocoa shell extracts have been shown to decrease pro-inflammatory markers and cell damage 5.

    Inflammation is associated with pathologies such as obesity and its associated complications, and is considered the cause of various chronic pathologies, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular risk.

  • In the Cardiovascular system

    Due to its content of unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic, cocoa acts as a vascular protector by reducing cholesterol and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and increasing HDL (High Density Lipoproteins or good cholesterol) 3 .

    Furthermore, possibly due to its flavonoid content, it has a hypotensive effect and reduces peripheral vasodilation.

    On the other hand, it reduces platelet aggregation, minimizing the formation of thrombi , which benefits health and protects our body from cardiovascular diseases 3,4 .

  • In the nervous system

    Cocoa has molecules capable of activating the nervous system, being vasodilating and possessing toning, diuretic and anti-neuralgic properties.

    Also the presence of aphenythylamine attributes antidepressant properties to cocoa.

    In the same way, it has been shown to have substances that act in the brain, inducing feelings of well-being and pleasure.

    In addition, it slows down the aging process and improves the performance of cognitive or mental processes, including memory 6 .

Psss, pss! If you want to read more articles about the properties of food, here are a few .

Uses of Cacao

Due to its various properties and benefits, cocoa, in its different forms of presentation, has multiple medicinal applications, in the pharmaceutical industry and natural remedies, in beauty treatments and in gastronomy, including it in both sweet and savory dishes or meals. .

  • Medical uses of cocoa

    Pure cocoa is used as an energizer 1 due to its high caloric value, it helps in the diet for people convalescing from acute illnesses and in the last weeks of pregnancy (with a limited consumption due to its caffeine content).

    Cocoa has been shown to have an antiseptic, emmenagogue, Vulnerary, diuretic, stimulant and euphoric effect . Cocoa butter has also been used as a component in the manufacture of suppositories 7

  • Cosmetic uses of cocoa

    Due to its composition, rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, cocoa helps maintain good skin health , moisturizing and protecting it from aging (due to its antioxidant property), cocoa is also used in hair treatments , acting as a moisturizer and repair of damages. It is also widely used by the industry in products such as moisturizers, lip balms, ointments, soaps, face masks and as a coating of pills 7

    Its medicinal properties, its rich nutritional content, its good taste and aroma make eating this product also pleasant, beneficial, therefore, it is consumed massively in different presentations, using pure cocoa or as an ingredient in multiple recipes and foods. , in the production of chocolate bars, liqueurs and sweet drinks.


Rich, healthy and beneficial, what more can we ask for?

Where can I get quality cocoa?

You can buy organic cocoa of the best quality (the cocoa that we consume) in this link .


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